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Climate Change: Fact or Fiction?

By Briana Gunter
On December 1, 2015

Everyone's childhood hero, Bill Nye the Science Guy, recently spoke at the Charleston Civic Center about climate change issues. 
Photo by Briana Gunter

With the presidential candidate debates going on lately, there’s been a lot of talk about climate change.  Surprisingly one thing candidates haven’t been able to agree on is whether climate change actually exists or not.  Climate change, to so many, seems to be an obvious problem that the world is facing, but others seem to still think it’s just a myth.  In my opinion, it’s hard to believe that so many of our world’s leaders and prospective leaders still believe that this serious problem is just a myth.  

According to NASA, carbon dioxide levels are at an all-time high.  For 650,000 years, carbon dioxide levels haven’t reached over 300 parts per million.  Since 1950, we’ve been above that level, and today, we’re at 400 parts per million.  Within the past century the sea level has risen 17 centimeters.  The sea level in the last decade though is nearly double that of the last century.  All three major global surface temperature reconstructions show that Earth has warmed since 1880.  Most of this warming has occurred since the 1970s, with the 20 warmest years having occurred since 1981 and with all 10 of the warmest years occurring in the past 12 years.  In the past 36 years the oceans have absorbed much of this increased heat and the top 2,300 feet of the ocean have warmed up by .302 degrees Fahrenheit.  Data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment show that Greenland has lost between 36 and 60 cubic miles of ice per year between 2002 and 2006, while Antarctica lost about 36 cubic miles of ice between 2002 and 2005.  Other pieces of evidence in support of climate change are an increase in record high temperature events, a decrease in low temperature events, an increase of carbon dioxide in the ocean, and decreased snow coverage (which we’ve been experiencing this year already).

Also according to NASA, scientists have high confidence that global temperatures will continue to rise for decades to come, largely due to greenhouse gases produced by human activities. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which includes more than 1,300 scientists from the United States and other countries, forecasts a temperature rise of 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century.  

If you don’t believe NASA’s scientists, I’m sure we can all put our trust in our beloved childhood scientist, Bill Nye the Science Guy.  On November 19, Bill Nye spoke in Charleston, W.Va. at the Charleston Clay Center.  He covered many topics, but one of the big topics he spoke about was climate change.  To no surprise, Bill Nye is actually concerned about our climate and is actively advocating for a change in the way the world uses its resources.  

Nye stated that by 2030, 80% of West Virginia could be run off of renewable energy such as solar or wind power and that by 2050 we could be running solely off of renewable energy.  Many people argue that West Virginia would be lost without coal.  Coal mining in West Virginia supports over 88,000 jobs according to  However, that’s not to say that those 88,000 jobs are filled by West Virginia residents.  Since 2010, 97% of West Virginia has been powered by coal according to the Rocky Mountain Coal Mining Institute.  While this is a big number, West Virginia won’t always have a large supply of coal that we can run our state on.  In an article titled “Inside West Virginia’s Struggle to Break its Coal Addiction”, Jeremy Richardson, a senior analyst and West Virginia specialist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said in an interview “it’s just geology.  Once you burn it, it’s gone.”  Whether it will happen in our lifetime or not, coal won’t always be here for West Virginia. 

I’m not suggesting that we completely get rid of coal.  However, there’s no harm in moving towards using solar and wind power.  These resources can be supplemental to the coal that we’re already using.  If we already have these renewable resource plants up and running, we’ll be better prepared to make the transition from coal to renewable resources whenever the time comes.

For those actually concerned about your impact on the environment, one of the most important, and easiest things you can do right now as a college student is reduce, reuse, and recycle.  Reduce the amount of time you spend showering and don’t let the water run as you’re brushing your teeth.  You can turn down your heat when you’re not in your room so you’re not over-heating an empty room.  Concord has recycling bins in all of the dorms and in most buildings on campus.  Recycle your cups from Subway and Starbucks and all of those water bottles you’ve been throwing away in your dorm.  For those of you who live off campus, Athens does a monthly recycling pick-up every last Monday of the month.  If you go to the town hall they’ll even give you free recycling trash bags.

To learn more about what you can do to reduce your carbon footprint on the earth visit  Climate change exists and the only way to reduce the effects of it is to take action and take care of your earth.

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